Embassies close in fear of more protests

Story highlights

  • Tunisia bans protests on Friday, a week after 4 die amid demonstrations
  • Diplomatic facilites closed in Indonesia and Sudan
  • Teachers lead young children to carry out an anti-U.S. protest in Karachi Thursday

Several diplomatic facilities were shuttered Friday as many brace for intensified protests over the anti-Islam movie "Innocence of Muslims," as well as recently published cartoons in a French publication of a figure resembling the Prophet Mohammed.

Demonstrations have raged for days as many in the Muslim world are angry about the U.S.-made Prophet Mohammed mocking film and the French cartoon. And some believe Friday prayers, a time of protest recently in the Middle East and North Africa, could add fuel to the fire.

Demonstrations occurred in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Thursday.

The developments include:

Protesters set blaze in Pakistan

Protesters in Peshawar, Pakistan torched two movie theaters in the city Friday morning, in protest against the film and the cartoon, a fire official said.

Firefighters were able to extinguish one blaze in about 90 minutes but were not able to get to the other fire, said Nadir Shah, a fire brigade official.

    "We were informed by the police that the two cinemas had been set ablaze by rioters and so we responded immediately," said Shah.

    There were also protests reported in Rawalpindi and Karachi, CNN affiliate Geo TV reported.

    Children chant 'Death to America'

    This comes a day after about 100 small children in Karachi repeated anti-American slogans during a protest in the coastal Pakistani city, a police official said.

    Video showed children repeating an adult voice, "Death to America" and "Any friend of America is a traitor."

    "Punish the blasphemer," children chanted Thursday. One placard read, "Shut down website of blasphemous film."

    The film reference is to the "Innocence of Muslims," which mocks Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer. A 14-minute trailer for the movie was first posted online in July, though it wasn't until this month that it came to the global consciousness.

    Since September 11, Muslims have staged a wave of protests in more than 20 countries decrying the film and the nation in which it was privately produced, the United States.

    The children in Karachi -- seemingly between the ages of 6 and 8 -- demonstrated across from the Karachi Press Club, said Ghulam Qadir, a Karachi police official charged with keeping track of all demonstrations at the club.

    The event was not formal or planned, so authorities didn't know ahead of time it would happen, he said. In general, Pakistani parents are not informed about every event organized by a school.

    At least four teachers accompanied the children to the demonstration, Qadir said. There did not appear to be any parents there.

    Facilities close in Indonesia

    The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, , the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya and U.S. Consular Agency in Bali and two other facilities would all be closed Friday because of the "potential for significant demonstrations that might be held in front of these facilities." officials said in a news statement. Protests have demonstrated in Indonesia last week.

    About 100 demonstrators gathered last Tuesday near a U.S. diplomatic facility in Medan, Indonesia, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said.

    German Embassy to close in Sudan

    The German embassy in Sudan's capital city Khartuom will be closed Friday as authorities anticipate protests over the cartoon published in French magazine Charlie Hebdo, state-run Ashorooq TV reported.

    "Security measures have been tightened at other diplomatic mission abroad," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

    Tunisian authorities ban all demonstrations Friday

    Seeking to avoid a repeat of what happened exactly one week earlier, Tunisia's interior ministry banned all demonstrations Friday, the state-run Tunisian News Agency (TAP) reported, citing a statement from the ministry.

    The report said the protest ban is "in accordance with the provisions of the state of emergency" that has been in place since the ouster January of its longtime president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

    The statement refers to "calls launched via social networks" to demonstrate over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. And it comes six days after four protesters died and 49 were wounded during an assault Friday on the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Tunis, TAP previously reported, citing Charles Nicolle Hospital interim general director Souad Sadraoui.

    Presidential spokesman Adnene Mansar denounced Charlie Hebdo's publication of the cartoons as a "deliberate insult," adding that "some circles are deliberately seeking to stir up tension in relations binding the Muslim and Western worlds."

    "We should not fall in the trap of provocation, we should rather denounce these acts by peaceful means," Mansar said, according to a TAP report.

    National Constituent Assembly Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar said, in another TAP story, that the bloody September 14 protests "do not reflect the mood of the moderate and tolerant Tunisian people."

    "Political, ideological and religious violence is (no) longer tolerated in present-day Tunisia," Jaafar said Strasbourg in eastern France, calling abiding by the "rule of law ... an absolute priority."

        Attacks on U.S. missions

      • A testy exchange erupted between Sen. John McCain and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey during the latter's testimony about September's deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
      • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on Republican congressional critics of her department's handling of the deadly September terrorist attack in Libya.
      • Children in Benghazi hold up placards reading "No to terrorism" (R) and "yes for stability and security" on January 15.

        Bilal Bettamer wants to save Benghazi from those he calls "extremely dangerous people." But his campaign against the criminal and extremist groups that plague the city has put his life at risk.
      • Protesters near the US Embassy in Cairo.

        Was the attack on the Libyan U.S. Consulate the result of a mob gone awry, a planned terror attack or a combination of the two?
      • Image #: 19358881    Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, smiles at his home in Tripoli June 28, 2012. Stevens and three embassy staff were killed late on September 11, 2012, as they rushed away from a consulate building in Benghazi, stormed by al Qaeda-linked gunmen blaming America for a film that they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad. Stevens was trying to leave the consulate building for a safer location as part of an evacuation when gunmen launched an intense attack, apparently forcing security personnel to withdraw. Picture taken June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori (LIBYA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST OBITUARY)       REUTERS /ESAM OMRAN AL-FETORI /LANDOV

        Three days before the deadly attack in Benghazi, a local security official says he warned U.S. diplomats about deteriorating security.
      • For the latest news on developments in the Middle East and North Africa in Arabic.